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Nor lefs; when pilots catch the friendly gales,
Unfurl their fhrouds, and hoift the wide-stretch'd fails. But if the poem fuffers from delay,
Let the lines fly precipitate away.
And when the viper iffues from the brake;
Be quick; with stones, and brands, and fire, attack
His rifing creft, and drive the serpent back.
When night defcends; or, ftun'd by numerous strokes,
And groaning, to the earth drops the vast ox;
The line too finks with correspondent found,
Flat with the steer, and headlong to the ground.
When the wild waves fubfide, and tempefts cease,
And hush their roarings and their rage to peace;
So oft we fee the interrupted strain
Stop'd in the midft,-and with the filent main,
Paufe for a space---at laft it glides again.
When Priam ftrains his aged arm, to throw
His unavailing javelin at the foe;
(His blood congeal'd, and every nerve unftrung,)
Then with the theme complies the artful fong;
Like him, the folitary numbers flow
Weak, trembling, melancholy, stiff, and flow.
Not fo young Pyrrhus, who with rapid force
Beats down embattled armies in his courfe:
The raging youth on trembling Ilion falls,
Burfts her ftrong gates, and fhakes her lofty walls;
Provokes his flying courfer to his speed,
In full career to charge the warlike steed;
He piles the field with mountains of the flain;
He pours, he ftorms, he thunders through the plain.
In this the Poet's jufteft conduct lies,
When with the various subjects he complies,
To fink with judgment, and with judgment rise.
We fee him now, remiffive of his force,
Glide with a low, and inoffenfive course;
Stript of the gawdy dress of words he goes,
And scarcely lifts the poem up from prose:
And now he brings with loosen'd reins along
All in a full career the boundless fong;.
In wide array luxuriantly he pours
A crowd of words, and opens all his stores.
The lavish eloquence redundant flows,
Thick as the fleeces of the winter-fnows,
When Jove invefts the naked Alps, and sheds
The filent tempeft on their hoary heads.
Sometimes the godlike fury he restrains,
Checks his impetuous speed, and draws the reins
Balanc'd and pois'd, he neither finks nor foars,
Plows the mid space, and steers between the shores,
And fhaves the confines ;---till, all dangers paft,
He fhoots with joy into the port at last.
For what remains unsung; I now declare
What claims the Poet's laft and stricteft care.
When, all adventures paft, his labours tend
In one continued order to their end;
When the proud victor on his conquest smiles,
And fafe enjoys the triumph of his toils;
Let him by timely diffidence be aw'd,
Nor truft too foon th' unpolish'd piece abroad.
Oh! may his rafh ambition ne'er inflame
His breaft, with such a dangerous thirst of fame!
But let the terror of difgrace control
The warm, the partial fondnefs of his foul;
And force the Bard to throw his paffion by,,
Nor view his offspring with a parent's eye:
Till his affections are by justice crost,
And all the father in the judge is loft.
He feeks his friends, nor trufts himself alone,
But asks their judgment, and refigns his own;
Begs them, with urgent prayers, to be fincere,
Juft and exact, and rigidly severe;
Due verdict to pronounce on every thought,
Nor spare the flighteft fhadow of a fault;
But, bent against himself, and strictly nice;
He thanks each critic that detects a vice;
Though charg'd with what his judgment can defend,
He joins the partial fentence of his friend.
The piece thrown by; the careful Bard reviews
The long-forgotten labours of his Muse :
Lo! on all fides far different objects rise,
And a new prospect strikes his wondering eyes,
Warm from the brain, the lines his love engrost,
Now in themselves their former felves are loft.
Now his own labours he begins to blame,
And blushing reads them with regret and shame.
He loaths the piece; condemns it; nor can find
The genuine ftamp, and image of his mind.
This thought and that, indignant he rejects;
When most secure, fome danger he suspects;
Anxious he adds, and trembling he corrects.
With kind severities, and timely art,
Lops the luxuriant growth of every part ;
Prunes the fuperfluous boughs, that wildly stray,
And cuts the rank redundancies away.
Thus arm'd with proper difcipline he stands,
By day, by night, applies his healing hands,
From every line to wipe out every blot,
Till the whole piece is guiltlefs of a fault.
Hard is the task, but needful, if your aim
Tends to the profpect of immortal fame.
If some unfinish'd numbers limp behind,
When the warm Poet rages unconfin'd,
Then when his swift invention scorns to ftay,
By a full tide of genius whirl'd away;
He brings the fovereign cure their failings claim,
Confirms the fickly, and fupports the lame.
Oft as the feafons roll, renew thy pain,
And bring the poem to the test again.
In different lights th' expreffion must be rang`d,
The garb and colours of the words be chang'd.
With endless care thy watchful eyes must pierce,
And mark the parts diftinct of every verfe.
In this perfift; for oft one day denies
The kind affiftance which the next fupplies;
As oft, without your vigilance and care,
Some faults detected by themselves appear.
And now a thoufand errors you explore,
That lay involv'd in mantling clouds before.
Oft, to improve his Mufe, the Bard should try,
By turns, the temper of a different sky.
For thus his genius takes a different face
From every different genius of a place.
The foul too changes, and the Bard may find
A thousand various motions in his mind.
New gleams of light will every moment rise,
While from each part the scattering darkness flies.
And, as he alters what appears amifs,
He adds new flowers to beautify the piece.
But here, ev'n here, avoid th' extreme of fuch,
Who with excefs of care correct too much :
Whose barbarous hands no calls of pity bound,
While with th' infected parts they cut the found,
And make the cure more dangerous than the wound.
Till, all the blood and fpirits drain'd away,
The body fickens, and the parts decay;
The native beauties die, the limbs appear
Rough and deform'd with one continued fear.
No fixt determin'd number I enjoin,
But when fome years shall perfect the defign;
Reflect on life; and, mindful of thy fpan,
Whofe fcanty limit bounds the days of man,
Wide o'er the spacious world, without delay,
Permit the finish'd piece to take its way;
Till all mankind admires the heavenly fong,
The theme of every hand and every tongue.
See thy pleas'd friends thy fpreading glory draws,
Each with his voice to fwell the vast applause;
The vaft applause shall reach the starry frame,
No years, no ages, fhall obfcure thy fame,
And earth's laft ends fhall hear thy darling name.